Survey reveals hideous results

THULANI MAGAZI

Only three out of 10 pupils that start school complete their matric in Philippi, while a staggering 85% of pupils experienced violence in their academic year.

These are some of the figures contained in the Philippi Community Report Card for 2014/2015, which was launched on Saturday March 5, at Khanya Primary School. The report card was compiled by Amandla Development in partnership with the South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP), using data from the departments of health and education as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The data also included results of an independent survey conducted among Grade 12 and Grade 8 pupils from Philippi’s eight high schools. The report card also shows that only 55% of children in the area enrol for Grade R, with only 31% of Grade 3 pupils passing their systematic tests.

Director and founder of Amandla, Scott Clarke, said the report was designed to unearth and deal with a host of challenges facing pupils from the Philippi area.

He said schools currently operate in silos and the idea was to take them out of their “corners” and enocurage them to do things together for the betterment of education in the area.

He said Amandla had partnered with various stakeholders to improve education in different communities.

Amandla is an NGO which works to empower the country’s youth through equal access to quality education by co-ordinating cross-sector collective of effective leaders and building their capacity to drive change. It strives to create an excellent environment where every pupil would be provided with the necessary support to succeed.

On Saturday the organisation put teachers from the neighbourhood’s 22 schools, school governing body members, parents, education district representatives, delegates from the departments of health and social development and NGOs from different schools under one roof to seek ways to improve conditions in the area.

Participants were split into six outcome groups, to look at interventions needed to prepare children for primary school, literacy and numeracy at grade level, support needed to be ready to learn, support to be ready for further education and training education, matric results and employment.

It is hoped these would give the organisation and the community a better understanding of the challenges that exist, in order to improve education in the area. Similar gatherings would be hosted in future to measure progress.

Mr Clarke said it was important to focus on the root cause of problems in a particular society. “This is about diagnosing individual communities of what is a problem and getting into their way,” he said

Trevor Manuel, former cabinet minister, addressed the gathering, talking about a range of things that contributed to a lower standard of education and a series of possible interventions.

He said if the gap between the rich and the poor was not closed, schools in poorer communities would always come second best. He said money alone was not enough to boost performance for township schools, calling on parents and the community to get involved.

Mr Manuel referred to Mbilwa Secondary School, in Sibasa, Limpopo, as a shining light for other schools in poorer communities. Since 1994, the school has achieved a 100% pass rate, with more than 90% their matriculants obtaining exemptions since 1997. Like many other schools Mbilwa is overcrowded, but it’s the dedication and commitment of the teachers that is a big difference.

“We don’t have to look at Bishops and at Rustenburg. We can make the difference if we make things right,” Mr Manuel said.

He added that teachers sacrifice their time for additional classes, while parents also avail themselves to assist pupils with afternoon classes. He urged other schools and communities to do the same. “If we can do things well here in Philippi others will learn from here, and that is something that will change the quality of education,” he said.

Mr Manuel said school principals, teachers and parents should join hands for the benefit of the pupils. He praised teachers who work in schools situated in remote areas and emphasised the importance of early childhood development, saying that is where education begins. He said the country’s education standard was low compared to that of many other countries, with the country’s socio-economic needs contributing immensely to the current education conditions.

“We need commitment. We need a strong world, and if we can do things right here in Philippi others will learn how and that is something that will change the quality of education,” emphasised Mr Manuel.